NBCUniversal has unveiled the 2020-21 classes of its groundbreaking scripted directing initiatives, Female Forward – which includes British Indian filmmaker Pratibha Parmar – and the Emerging Director Program.
Maureen Bharoocha, who is half Irish Catholic, half Indian-Pakistani-Burmese, is also among seven Female Forward directors. This marks the third year of Female Forward which aims to achieve gender parity in the director’s chair.
The two programs aim to increase representation of female and ethnically diverse male and non-binary directors, respectively, by creating a pipeline into scripted television.
Both initiatives, said NBC, remain unique within the industry in that they are the only network programs to guarantee that participating directors will helm an episode of primetime television by the conclusion of the program. Program directors shadow on up to two episodes of their assigned NBC scripted series before receiving an in-season assignment to helm an episode of the same series.
Parmar is set to direct “Law and Order: SVU” while Bharoocha will helm “Superstore.”
Due to current production constraints and safety protocols, it has yet to be determined whether all the directors will be able to shadow and direct on their respective shows this season. If they are not able to safely fulfill the program curriculum this season, they will shadow and direct an episode on an NBC scripted series in the 2021-22 season.
An advisory council of celebrated television directors, including Indian American Nisha Ganatra, helped select the participating directors and will mentor them during the program.
Writer-director-producer Parmar has directed numerous award-winning documentary films for BBC, Channel 4, PBS and European broadcasters.
Her credits include “Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth,” a feature-length documentary on the life of Pulitzer Prize winning author of “The Color Purple” and includes interviews with Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover and Quincy Jones. The film garnered several awards, including the jury award at the Napa Valley Film Festival.
Recognized as a pioneering filmmaker, Parmar directed the ground-breaking film, “Khush,” one of the first films to give visibility to and highlight the experiences of LGBT people in India.
Parmar made her debut as a narrative director with her award-winning film, “Nina’s Heavenly Delights.” She made her U.S. debut as a director of scripted television in 2019 when she was invited by Ava DuVernay to direct episode 12 of Season 4 of “Queen Sugar.”
She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the ICON award, presented by Bagari London Indian Film Festival in association with the British Film Institute for outstanding contribution to Indian and world cinema, and the Frameline Film Festival Award.
Parmar is attached as a director of the feature film, “My Name Is Andrea,” featuring Amandla Stenberg, Soko, Ashley Judd, and Andrea Riseborough.
Bharoocha, a Los Angeles, Calif., -based writer-director, recently directed her third feature film, the arm-wrestling comedy, “Golden Arm,” set to premiere on HBO in 2021.
She spent three seasons as a segment director on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and has directed over 50 short films and commercial spots.
Bharoocha, who enjoys telling stories about complicated characters and mixing genres because of her mixed background, was selected as one of IndieWire’s Rising Female Directors of 2020, named on HBO’s 2018 Directors List, and nominated for the SXSW 2020 Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Visionary Directing Award.